Google: 10,000 to tackle extremist online content

Logos of US technology company Google displayed on computer screens. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2017
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Google: 10,000 to tackle extremist online content

LONDON: Google is set to create a team of 10,000 people who will be tasked with removing extremist, violent and predatory content posted on YouTube.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Google-owned YouTube said it would be expanding its team of moderators as she admitted that “bad actors” were “exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm.”
In recent weeks YouTube has been widely condemned for the availability of Daesh propaganda on the site and for videos featuring children in abuse situations.
Wojcicki said efforts to tackle extremism on the site had already seen ‘tremendous progress.”
“In the last year, we took actions to protect our community against violent or extremist content, testing new systems to combat emerging and evolving threats. We tightened our policies on what content can appear on our platform, or earn revenue for creators. We increased our enforcement teams,” the CEO wrote on her company blog.
Over the past six months, more than 150,000 videos of violent extremism have been removed, she added. The CEO said machine learning is helping human reviewers remove nearly five times as many videos than they were previously.
“Now, we are applying the lessons we’ve learned from our work fighting violent extremism content over the last year in order to tackle other problematic content. Our goal is to make it harder for policy-violating content to surface or remain on YouTube,” Wojcicki wrote.
YouTube has faced a backlash over the distribution and monetization of inappropriate content –something that Wojcicki acknowledged by saying that it had been “a difficult year.”
She said the company would now be taking a new approach to advertising, and would be “significantly ramping up” its team of advert reviewers to ensure adverts only run where they should.
 


Ransomware ‘hero’ pleads guilty to US hacking charges

This May 15, 2017, file photo shows British IT expert Marcus Hutchins, branded a hero for slowing down the WannaCry global cyberattack, during an interview in Ilfracombe, England. (AP)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Ransomware ‘hero’ pleads guilty to US hacking charges

  • Hutchins could face up to one year in jail on each of the criminal counts along with financial penalties

WASHINGTON: A British computer security researcher once hailed as a “hero” for helping stem a ransomware outbreak and later accused of creating malware to attack the banking system said Friday he pleaded guilty to US criminal charges.
Marcus Hutchins, whose arrest in 2017 stunned the computer security community, acknowledged in a statement pleading guilty to criminal charges linked to his activity in 2014 and 2015.
“I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes,” the 24-year-old Hutchins, known by his alias “MalwareTech,” wrote, noting that the charges related to his activity prior to his work in security.
“Having grown up, I’ve since been using the same skills that I misused several years ago for constructive purposes. I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks.”
Hutchins in 2017 found a “kill switch” to stem the spread of the devastating WannaCry ransomware outbreak, prompting widespread news reports calling him a hero.
Months later he was arrested after attending the Def Con gathering of computer hackers in Las Vegas.
The case drew fire from critics who argued that researchers often work with computer code that can be deployed for malicious purposes.
A federal indictment unsealed in Wisconsin accused Hutchins and another individual of making and distributing the Kronos “banking Trojan,” a reference to malicious software designed to steal user names and passwords used on online banking sites.
According to the indictment, Hutchins was part of a conspiracy to distribute the hacking tool on so-called dark markets.
He was released on bail while awaiting trial, allowing him to continue working for a security firm. He had maintained his innocence and won support from many others in his profession.
US prosecutors did not immediately respond to an AFP query about the case. But court documents published by the news site ZDNet showed Hutchins could face up to one year in jail on each of the criminal counts along with financial penalties.
Other counts in the indictment were dismissed, according to the court papers.